Zhang Tongzhi (1875–1948) was a Chinese scholar, educator, and gourmet from Nanjing, today the capital of Jiangsu province. In 1947, he published the List of Jinling's Delicacies, in which he described and extolled the best raw ingredients, processed foods, and cooked dishes he had tasted in Nanjing throughout his life. In this article, I offer a translation of twenty-four of the sixty-one entries of the List and I read them as portraying not only the city's delicacies but also the practice of gastronomy, of Zhang as well as of the people of Nanjing. As a social and consumption practice, gastronomy can be defined, with Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson, as “the systematic, socially valorized pursuit of culinary excellence.” Yet gastronomy, in the context of Western and especially French culinary history, has mainly been analyzed as a textualized discourse. While I do not challenge the idea that gastronomic words matter, in this article I suggest that gastronomic practice matters, too, and that, as far as the development of Chinese culinary culture is concerned, it may have mattered more than words. The List affords us glimpses into a little-known foodscape and it vividly captures this “applied” dimension of gastronomy. My hope is that this text will also stimulate more comparative thinking about culinary cultures and their sociohistorical development.
Gastronomic Practice in Zhang Tongzhi's List of Jinling's Delicacies
Andrea Montanari has recently completed a PhD in Sociology at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou (PRC) with a dissertation on the social function of the discourse about good taste in late imperial China. His research interests include the sociology of consumption and culinary history.
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Andrea Montanari; Gastronomic Practice in Zhang Tongzhi's List of Jinling's Delicacies. Gastronomica 1 November 2019; 19 (4): 10–19. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/gfc.2019.19.4.10
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